Affectation looks a lot like a much more common word, affection. But the two are used very differently.
The more familiar word, affection, in modern use means "a feeling of liking and caring for someone or something," as in "They show their dog a lot of affection."
Affectation, on the other hand, refers to a form of behavior that's unnatural to the person engaging in it, and that is meant to impress other people. A phony accent someone uses to sound more sophisticated, for example, can be considered an affectation, as can pretending to know all about some obscure band in order to seem cool.
The words don't have much in common in their use, but their similarity in appearance is not coincidence. Both have to do with one of the trickiest words in the language: affect.
Affect is one of the most frequently looked-up words in the dictionary, primarily because of its
regular confusion with effect. The short rationale that you often hear when it comes to distinguishing the two is that effect is usually a noun and affect is a verb. The breakdown isn't all that simple, however, and what makes things even more confusing is that there are two verb entries for affect.
One affect entry is for the sense meaning "to produce an effect upon (someone)" or "to act upon (a person, a person's mind or feelings, etc.) so as to effect a response." This is the sense that connects to affection, as in "We were affected by the young woman's heartfelt speech." Being affected by something in this way doesn't necessarily result in affection, but it can.
The other verb affect is defined as "to make a display of liking or using : cultivate" or "to put a pretense on : feign." It is used when talking about things like styles or mannerisms, as in "He affected a British accent and tweedy look after reading nothing but Sherlock Holmes stories for months on end."
The two verbs affect took different etymological paths from the same origin. The "put on a pretense" sense of affect derives via Middle English and Anglo-French from the Latin affectāre, meaning "to try to accomplish, strive after, pretend to have." Affectāre is a derivative of afficere, which means "to produce an effect on, exert an influence on"; the affect related to affection is from a variant of afficere.
feeling denotes any partly mental, partly physical response marked by pleasure, pain, attraction, or repulsion; it may suggest the mere existence of a response but imply nothing about the nature or intensity of it.
the feelings that once moved me are gone
emotion carries a strong implication of excitement or agitation but, like feeling, encompasses both positive and negative responses.
the drama portrays the emotions of adolescence
affection applies to feelings that are also inclinations or likings.
a memoir of childhood filled with affection for her family
sentiment often implies an emotion inspired by an idea.
her feminist sentiments are well known
passion suggests a very powerful or controlling emotion.
revenge became his ruling passion
Examples of affection in a Sentence
She has deep affection for her parents.
He shows great affection for his grandchildren.
feelings of love and affection
He now looks back on those years with great affection.
She developed a deep affection for that country and its people.
Recent Examples on the WebBut past and present share a dedication to authenticity and a near-tangible affection for the artisanal craft of making fine leather goods.—Nancy Olson, Forbes, 28 Nov. 2023 Any organization that can do justice to such a wide range of material has my immediate affection.—Seth Colter Walls, New York Times, 13 Nov. 2023 The very public display of affection came a day after the couple was spotted having dinner together in Buenos Aires.—Bailey Richards, Peoplemag, 12 Nov. 2023 That movie, and even the early days of The Crown, treated the monarchy with at least as much skepticism as affection, if not more.—Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 16 Nov. 2023 Easily win their affection over this holiday season via noise-canceling earbuds.—Maura Jenkins, Glamour, 15 Nov. 2023 The document, reportedly agreed at an extraordinary meeting in 2016, sounds like something straight out of the HBO megahit Succession, where the Roy siblings duel it out for both their father Logan’s affections and, more importantly, his media empire.—Ryan Hogg, Fortune Europe, 15 Nov. 2023 This show of affection comes after they were spotted having dinner together in the Argentine capital on Friday night, following Kelce's arrival in the South American country earlier the same day.—Natasha Dye, Peoplemag, 13 Nov. 2023 All were too occupied to attend his games, so Sanders learned to win the affection of the crowd.—Zach Helfand, The New Yorker, 11 Nov. 2023 See More
These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'affection.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.
Middle English affeccioun "capacity for feeling, emotion, desire, love," borrowed from Anglo-French, "desire, love, inclination, partiality," borrowed from Latin affectiōn-, affectiō "frame of mind, feeling, feeling of attachment," from affec- (variant stem of afficere "to produce an effect on, exert an influence on") + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of action nouns — more at affect entry 1